What do you listen to while working?
The gym I go to is a small and very dedicated subset of exercise: a black iron gym. This means you walk in, and see roughly ten squat racks on individual platforms meant for weightlifting alone, and a lat pulldown machine in the far corner, The other room has even more platforms, with competition-specific weights and two concept two rowers that are used only for warmups. There are only two ancient treadmills, and only folks who are in a specific rehab use ’em. If they disappeared, it’d take weeks to notice. People are there to concentrate on doing their training, competing against themselves and marking sets and reps in notebooks or apps as they progress.
And there’s always music on in the background. You can tell who got to the radio first (or overruled the others) by what’s playing. The young gentleman who coaches high schoolers, Chase, is quite fond of metal. My coach (and the gym manager) Carmen, is not fond of metal, and after a while the channel will firmly get changed to a 60’s & 70’s station. The gym owner has his own distinct preferences, which overrule everyone else’s (yesterday was blues). Several lifters bring earbuds so they can listen to their own chosen playlist, at their own volume.
The music aids concentration, and also provides a background cue for rest time between sets – if you’ve been chatting for two songs, unless you’re doing severely impressive amounts of weight, it’s past time to get back to your rack and lift another set. (I do not lift impressive amounts of weight. Well, they’re impressive for me compared to the shoulder rehab I was in a year ago, but I overhead press 65 pounds. Chase recently overhead pressed 330 pounds!)
Moving on to artist studios, I often find Pandora or an MP3 playlist in the background, set somewhere from faint white noise levels to feeling my lungs compress with every bass beat (Sound levels don’t seems to correspond to the tone or style of the piece being painted, weirdly.)
And when it comes to writers, one of the easy symbols I have worked out with Peter is that if he’s got music pouring out of his office (or has headphones on), he’s busy working and not to be disturbed. His music only overlaps mine at the fringes – we both like Nightwish and Blackmore’s Night, but from there, while I may like electronica and ambient, I only respect Tubular Bells as a seminal work in the field; I don’t enjoy it enough to play it instead of Chicane or Adam Fielding.
Some writers seem to prefer instrumental, not wanting words in to interfere with words out – while others will use songs from the right era, or mood, to set the tone. (Interestingly, lifters often report same split – that some people find music with words they understand distracting, so they listen to epic, instrumental, or music in a language they don’t know.)
Then again, I use music to keep any ADH…Squirrel! tendencies from distracting me in the middle of boring or complicated tasks. Peter knows if I’m blasting music, I’m working, whether it’s on a blurb or on cleaning the toilets, and generally leaves me alone. Even if he does look mildly bemused at Ivan Torrent and VNV Nation as housecleaning music, and or longsuffering at cooking something complicated to Bruderschaft or Newsboys, even though the kitchen is next to his office. (I have no idea what expression he has for my writing playlist, because I’m busy trying to wrestle words onto the screen.)
…of course, the cats are no respecters of music as a cue that I’m concentrating on something other than them. Cats will be cats!
Do you use music to help concentrate or set the mood? If so, what does your writing playlist look like?